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Monday, February 16, 2004

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New! Signs Supplement: Fortean Fire

Picture of the Day

©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

In recent days, the omnipresent threat of global terrorism seems to be on everyone's mind. As a result, there has been much discussion regarding liberty, and the increased need for "securitizing" our freedoms. It seems, however, that most people think of liberty in terms of a very limited perceptual scope. They simply want to preserve a "way of life"; they are not as concerned about civil liberties being revoked.

The illogical and frequently nonsensical statements of a man like George W. Bush pass undetected into the minds of the American masses. After 9/11, Bush declared that due to the terrorists who hate America's freedoms, the US would have to wage a great war - and that would mean possibly sacrificing the freedoms that make the alleged terrorists so jealous. We have commented quite a bit on this topic on the Signs page, and thus we will not elaborate any further on the profound absurdity of this blatant nonsense that has been endlessly regurgitated by the current administration.

Of all the nations on our troubled globe, the US especially seems to be submerged in a cesspool of fear.

Sometimes a man is lost in revolving thoughts which return again and again to the same thing, the same unpleasantness, which he anticipates and which not only will not but cannot happen in reality.

These forebodings of future unpleasantness, illnesses, losses, awkward situations often get hold of a man to such an extent that they become waking dreams. People cease to see and hear what actually happens, and if someone succeeds in proving to them that their forebodings and fears were unfounded in some particular instance, they even feel a certain disappointment, as though they were thus deprived of a pleasant expectation.

Very often a man leading a cultured life in cultured surroundings does not realize how big a role fears play in his life. He is afraid of everything: afraid of his servants, afraid of the children of his neighbor, the porter in the entrance hall, the man selling newspapers around the corner, the cab-driver, the shop assistant...

And this is so in ordinary, normal times but, at such times as we are going through now, this all-pervading fear becomes clearly visible. [Gurdjieff, Essentuki lecture, 1917]

The time Gurdjieff refers to is the Russian Revolution. In modern-day America, fears of terrorism add to the "normal" burden of fear. For some, the fear of terrorists has been replaced by a fear of the new fascism that is rising in the country. Others fear the wrath of god, and they anxiously await the rapture. The population has been given a few (non)choices, and they are choosing in droves. We would like to propose another alternative.

What would happen if we could become aware of all our fears, and utilize this energy, even if only for a brief instant? Terrorists allegedly hate us for our freedoms. Religions restrict our liberty by imposing rules that make us fear the loss of freedom in the afterlife. Perhaps the fears of terrorism and losing freedom could be transformed into a useful tool by simply pondering the meaning of the word "freedom".

What if true liberty has absolutely nothing to do with a chunk of land, a like-minded group of people, or a nice house full of useless gizmos and gadgets designed to make us simultaneously content and docile? What if true liberty cannot be stamped out or held hostage by terrorists, regardless of whether they come from the Middle East or the White House? What if true liberty has nothing to do with a flag, an anthem, or any god?

Consider the following possibilities: Knowledge is liberty. There is no security.

Knowledge is liberty.

How are we as individuals to make a choice if we are not in full possession of the facts? The application of knowledge can lead to awareness. Awareness of other possibilities allows us to choose something other than what is conveniently laid out before us. By simply reading the news, doing a little research, and thinking about what is discovered, one can see that the default choices given by the powers that be aren't very beneficial to anyone - except those in power.

Even with awareness, it is still necessary to take action in support of one's own destiny. This does not mean that we should overthrow governments or rebel in some way against the system. Control systems exist for a reason. If we are to accept that this reality is one big school, then the reality's institutions should not be torn down. How might we feel if those who have taken the journey before us had deprived us of a tool for our individual growth... No - taking action means that after we have the capacity to see new alternatives, we can choose a different road that is more in line with the creative principle.

The road less traveled that was shrouded behind some foliage will catch our eye. It may even seem absurd that all the while we were making choices in the past, this alternative path was always available, if only we had known where - and how - to look. Yet even when we are aware of a new route through the forest, we still must fight against the general law. No matter the path taken, a forest is still a forest, full of all sorts of danger. The battles against our former enemies, such as fear, will not simply evaporate. What may happen is that we will find we can use our old adversaries as a new tool for growth.

In The Wave Series, Laura Knight-Jadczyk writes:

[...] Identifying, releasing and expressing emotion that has been suppressed is a significant step in the direction of taking charge of your ship and learning to navigate it. But, at the same time, it is essential to learn to transform emotions. We can learn to only have positive emotions!

In the East, part of the training of many paths of yogic wisdom includes meditating in graveyards. Now, a graveyard in the East is quite different from a graveyard in the West. In the East, it is the custom to expose the bodies to the elements so that they will be devoured by birds and other predators. To meditate in such a place is to be confronted by physical horrors that Westerners may find difficult to contemplate. At the same time, there is the superstitious fear of specters and demons that the meditator must deal with.

In Tantra yoga, one practice is to make love in a graveyard.

In both cases, the object is to train the consciousness to achieve higher states of mind in the face of the cold, hard facts of life in the material world; to gain mastery over the physical, programmed emotions; to become The Navigator. [...]

Note especially the statement about gaining mastery over the "physical, programmed emotions". It may not even be possible to purge ourselves of all negative emotions. By working to eliminate programmed emotional responses, and learning to transform any negative emotions we may experience into something creative, we can start to take control of the ship. It is in this spirit that we create the Signs page each day with the help of those readers who dig for articles and mine for the truth along with us. While we may change ourselves, the world remains cold, hard, and dark.

It may also be advantageous to consider the limits of our new tool: knowledge. The concept of knowledge, by definition, must encompass all that is. If knowledge has no limits, and the ultimate nature of reality is without limits, then knowledge is everything and everything is knowledge. A man with knowledge is not necessarily free in the fullest sense of the word; however, he is on the path to true freedom.

There is no security.

It is often said that nothing lasts forever. History has shown that countries are created, expand, contract, change, and are destroyed. Tyrants rise and fall. Entire civilizations are wiped out, the remnants of their lives possibly forever misinterpreted by the new civilizations that follow. Furthermore, each of us will die someday, maybe sooner than we think. Life is good. But wait, it gets better!

The world seems to be in a constant state of flux. Even the act of learning something very simple implies change. Nonetheless, the general principle of the established power structures on the BBM is the institution of order. There is order in the framework of society, in laws and regulations, and in daily routines. Oftentimes, these things are not in fact ordered at all. Although purposely manipulated to appear as useful structures, much of the "order" imposed on the inhabitants of this world are designed to create as much chaos, tension, fear, ego, and self-importance as possible. As a result, what appears on the surface as order is, in reality, disorder and control.

Even a cursory examination of history as we know it on the BBM will illustrate that this world is a far bigger mess than most people want to admit. In the introduction to Laura Knight-Jadczyk's newly updated book Ancient Science, we find the following:

The Laws of Probability tell us that, without any intelligent input, 50% of the time the events in our world would lead to great good and benefit for mankind. In a strictly mechanical way, life in our world ought to have manifested a sort of “equilibrium.” Factoring in intelligent decisions to do good might bring this average up to about 70%. That would mean that humanity would have advanced over the millennia to a state of existence where good and positive things happen in our lives more often than “negative” or “bad” things. In this way, many of the problems of humanity would have been effectively solved. War and conflict would be a rarity, perhaps 70 percent of the earth’s population would have decent medical care, a comfortable roof over their heads, and sufficient nutritious food so that death by disease or starvation would be almost unheard of.

The facts are, however, quite different.

More than 840,000,000 people on the Earth suffer from hunger. That’s about three times the population of the entire USA. This is chronic, persistent hunger, which kills 24,000 people every day, or over 8 million each year. Three of four who die from starvation are younger than five years old.

According to the Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, during the past 100 years there have been approximately 2 billion deaths (including civilians) resulting from war, tyrannical governments, and man-made famine. When these figures are broken down into deaths caused by Communism vs. Capitalism, they are almost equal, with the figures slightly higher for Capitalism which may surprise some people who believe that the Capitalistic system is the “right” one. “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Chaos is the effect of the entropic principle. Our reality is based on this principle. The inhabitants of a chaotic universe crave certainty, even though it can never be achieved. This can be seen most readily in our world today. We struggle endlessly for more security, for the certainty of a good job, a steady income, a comfortable retirement, and the safety of our families and friends. We console ourselves and numb our minds with monotheistic religions that frighten us into craving their empty promises of a happy ending if we submit, or eternal damnation otherwise. We yearn for the security of our illusions of freedom, not realizing that security is, by its very nature, a system of limits and control. What to do?

The alternative, the other "hidden" path, is the creative principle. The antithesis of chaos, creation is uncertain, open, and free. This naturally leads to the idea that creation is not secure. Security implies something known that will not change, yet this cannot be the case if we remain open to all possibilities. Living in uncertainty means a certain mastery of the ultimate fear - the fear of the unknown. There can be no illusions of order as one struggles against the entropic principle in a seemingly endless uphill battle.

And a battle it is; there is no free lunch in the universe. It is most perplexing that people who have no problem working long hours day-in and day-out would insist on a path to "enlightenment" that requires no effort. Chaos and destruction are easy. Illusions of order are simplistic and oppressive. To actually create something new, to seek true freedom, is work. But work for the creative principle can be "fun".

Besides, given the nature of our world today, we have nothing to lose - and an infinity of knowledge to contemplate. Every great journey begins with a single step...

Yesterday we reported on the Kerry intern story and the interesting series of possible links to Kenya and the Mombasa Paradise hotel, which was destroyed in an "al-Qaeda" terrorist attack. Today we continue the story with more interesting information.

Kerry intern hiding in Kenya

By NATION Reporter and Agencies
Monday, February 16, 2004

The young intern at the centre of a furore involving United States presidential hopeful John Kerry is hiding out in Kenya.

Alex Polier, 24, has been in the country for the past few weeks visiting her fiancee, Mr Yaron Schwartzman, who works with FilmStudios, along Nairobi's Ngong Road.

Ms Polier, who could end Senator John Kerry's hopes of becoming the next president of the United States, is alleged to have had a two-year affair with the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

"This is not going to go away," one American friend of Ms Polier said yesterday. "What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."

The allegations come at a crucial time for the senator. Polls showed him leading Mr Bush by 52 per cent to 42 per cent, and aides will be anxious to see if the apparent scandal affects his standing among voters.

Ms Polier, a former intern who also spent some time in 1998 doing work experience at the Houses of Parliament in London, is in Kenya staying with Mr Schwartzman.

It was not immediately clear what Mr Schwartzman does at FilmStudios. Efforts to contact the family home in the leafy suburb of Lavington were fruitless.

Miss Polier and her fiance were believed to be hiding at the Nairobi home of Mr Schwartzman's parents, who moved to Kenya from Israel.

Mr Joseph Schwartzman is the chairman of the H Young group of companies. His wife, Hannah, is described by friends to be a devout Jew who was hoping to see her future daughter-in-law convert to Judaism before the wedding ceremony planned for some time later in the year.

The Nation has established, however, that the couple were students together at Columbia University in New York. [...]

Comment: Below is an excerpt from Victor Ostrovsky's book "By way of Deception" on the Mossad. Ostrovsky was a Mossad agent and in his book he details the type of operations conducted by the Mossad. It includes everything from arms and money laundering to "repatriation" of Jews from around the world to Israel. In one account entitled "Operation Moses" he states:

Operation Moses

They were all there: foreign diplomats escaping the oppressive heat of Khartoum; tourists from right across Europe anxious to learn diving techniques in the Red Sea, or enjoy escorted tours of the nubian desert; and senior Sudanese officials, all relaxing in the newly constructed tourist resort 75 miles north of Port Sudan across the sea from Mecca.

How were they to know it was a Mossad front? Indeed on the morning in early July 1985, when the 50 or so customers woke up to find the staff had vanished - except for a few locals left behind to serve breakfast - they still didn't know what had happened. Few people know even today. As far as legitimate tourists were concerned, the resort's European owners had gone bankrupt, as the notes left behind claimed, though they were assured of a full refund. The staff, either Mossad or Israeli navy workers, had disappeared during the night, some by boat, others by air. But what had happened at this camp is one of the great mass escape stories of history, a story only partially known to the world as Operation Moses. [...] The resort was constructed in about a month. Besides the main buildings for the tourists, the kitchen, the bedrooms and so on, there were several sheds to house communication equipment and weapons...They also sneaked in all the gear needed for lighting up impromptu airfields in the desert [...]

Comment: The above is part of the account of the "rescue of 18,000 black Ethiopian Jews or Falashas from Ethiopia to Israel". The account is particularly interesting when looked at in the aftermath of the attack on the Mombasa paradise Hotel in Kenya in late November 2002. Many aspects of both cases are similar.

Kenyan hotel staff unpaid

Thursday, 5 December, 2002

The attack left hotel workers jobless

Former staff at Kenya's Paradise Hotel, which was blown up last week, complain that they have not been paid.

Nine of their colleagues were killed in the suicide attack on the Israeli-owned hotel near the coastal resort of Mombasa.

The hotel was completely destroyed by the attack, leaving the staff jobless.

Israeli manager Yehuda Sulami said he was not sure if the hotel would be rebuilt because "terrorist" attacks were not covered in the insurance policy.

He tried to calm tempers during a demonstration and promised they would be paid soon. Reuters news agency reports that staff booed him as he spoke.

Some claimed they had received just 2,000 Kenyan shillings ($25) for a year's work at the Paradise.

They say the managers repeatedly promised to pay them, but the promises were never kept.

"We depended on tips from the guests which was not enough," said Josephine Mbuli, 23, who worked as a hairdresser for three years to support her eight siblings and mother.

"There's no question that November salaries have not been paid," Mr Sulami told reporters. "Some we also have to pay for September. But there's no question their salaries will be paid as soon as possible."

But Paradise Hotel staff say they are used to hearing promises.

Human resources manager Valentina Sapaya, who had only been working there for a few months, said many people had told her that their wages had not been paid, despite repeated management pledges.

"They are very patient," she said. "They were hoping to get paid any time. The owner kept on promising, then they were living in hope."

The BBC's Gray Phombeah says that Paradise Hotel was the only Israeli-owned hotel in the Mombasa area.

Comment: So, like "Operation Moses", the "owners" of the hotel had apparently disappeared leaving the "manager" to pick up the pieces, although it appears that an effort was made to extort up to $2,000,000 from the "time share owners" after the hotel had been destroyed. Just who the beneficiaries of this money were is not clear.

Mombassa hotel demands $2,000 from time-share owners

David Hayoun
17 Dec 02

Sources inform “Globes” that the owners of the Paradise Hotel, where three Israelis were killed in a terrorist attack, have recently demanded $2,000 from the Israeli owners of time-sharing units in the hotel. The hotel owners said the money was needed “in order to cover the expenses of renovating the hotel, which was severely damaged in the attack.”

The time-share owners have already paid $7,000-10,000 in recent years for the right to use the unit for one week a year.

The demand stunned many of the time-share owners, some of whom had only just finished paying for their units. Some of them believe the demand is not legitimate, and the hotel owners should finance the renovations either from the insurance money, or out of pocket. Others agree the demand is legitimate, since the hotel is not insured against terrorism.

Adv. Yigal Cohen, trustee for the time-sharing units in the hotel purchased by Israelis, told “Globes”, “The requests were sent to the 1,000 Israeli unit owners. The demand is reasonable, given the fact that the hotel is not insured against terrorist attacks. Had the attacks occurred in Israel, property taxes would have covered the damage.

”I looked for a similar institution in Kenya, but there is none, so the hotel owners have to bear the expense. For the time-sharing unit owners the payment is for maintenance, which they would have had to pay later in any case. At the same time, I’m checking whether Israeli government agencies will participate in the added cost, and I’ve also contacted the property tax department. I’m waiting for answers.” Cohen also contacted the Kenyan ambassador to Israel.

It should be emphasized that Cohen is not a party to the $2,000 demand, which comes from the hotel owners. Cohen formally holds the time-sharing units for the Israeli purchasers, since the right to use them for one week a year cannot be registered in the land registry, and a trustee is required.

Cohen added a warning note for the units, through a Kenyan company under his management. He said that the unit owners had already begun negotiating with the hotel owners over the $2,000 demand, and various means of compensating the unit owners were under consideration, including the granting of an additional week of use.

Comment: To our knowledge the Mombassa Paradise hotel remains in ruins to this day. As to whether the $2,000 per "time share holder" was ever paid we do not know.

Yet the question remains, if the Mobassa paradise hotel was a Mossad front, just what was it being used for? We know that Israel, as a state, has very expensive tastes, especially in terms of armaments. Just where does the little piece of land in the Middle East that is Israel, with no oil or gas reserves to speak of, get all its money from? We realise that it is massively subsidised by the US, but even that, we think, is not enough to fill the Israeli government's monetary needs and those of its clandestine organisations. What if this time, instead of exporting people, the Israeli front that was the Mombassa Paradise Hotel was used in the export of something altogether more mundane. Perhaps we can call it "Operation Goldmine"?

Money, power and the winded path of Goldenberg's deals

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What is 'Goldenberg'? How did the scheme work and who did it benefit? As the newly appointed commission prepares to examine the biggest cash scandal in Kenya's history, the Nation presents the second part of research by Peter Warutere, International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the Kenya Leadership Institue, entitled Corruption and Elite Wealth

Goldenberg was a neatly packaged conduit of plundering public funds. Its roots have over the years been traced right to the most powerful people running the government during the tenure of President Daniel arap Moi.

It all began with a businessman called Kamlesh Pattni registering a company, Goldenberg International Limited, that offered an alternative source of foreign exchange earnings from gold and diamond jewellery exports.

Mr Pattni exploited the fact that the government was experiencing a serious foreign exchange crisis due to suspension of balance of payments aid and insufficient earnings from the export sector. Moreover, President Moi and Kanu were desperate for money to finance the elections and now that the bilateral donors were pressing for democratic reforms, they were not likely to fund Mr Moi’s campaign like they had done before.

Kamlesh Mansukhlal Damji Pattni was a little known messenger in downtown Nairobi peddling gold bracelets and rings. At the age of about 27, he registered Goldenberg as a gold and export jewellery firm. He came from a family that was in small time jewellery business and could not even be compared with his cousins, Nagin Pattni, who was running bigger businesses in Nairobi. Kamlesh was the chairman of Goldenberg while his elder brother, Rohit Pattni, was the managing director (chief executive). How Mr Pattni got connected to the ruling elite remains unclear but by 1990, it was apparent that he had succeeded in selling a multi-million dollar scheme to the Kenyan authorities.

The scheme, evidence shows, was sanctioned by the Office of the President by an inter-ministerial committee, but the principal architect was Mr Hezekiah Oyugi, the permanent secretary in the President’s office in charge of internal security.

Mr Oyugi was an all-powerful personality who was so close to President Moi that for a time he rivalled Mr Nicholas Biwott — the President’s most trusted aide and a powerful political operator. Mr Oyugi was implicated in a series of high corruption deals, including the Nyayo Bus Corporation (which eventually collapsed).

There was also another significant dimension to Goldenberg. Besides Pattni, the only other original subscriber was Mr James Kanyotu, the head of Kenya’s dreaded security intelligence, then known as the Special Branch (now the National Security Intelligence Service). Mr Kanyotu, a fearsome policeman, was listed as a farmer in the original registration documents filed with the Registrar of Companies at the Attorney-General’s office, while Mr Pattni was listed as a director of China Trade Ltd.

Mr Kanyotu did not disclose that he was also a director of Firestone East Africa, a tyre business substantially owned byMr Naushad Merali, believed to be the President’s proxy and business associate. Mr Merali’s holding company, Sameer Investments Limited, owns a large number of profitable business enterprises, a good number of them bought out from American investors in mind-boggling deals. Mr Kanyotu was also a director of First American Bank, also part of Sameer. It could well then have been no coincidence that Goldenberg operated its first account at this bank.

Comment: The Goldenberg inquiry has been ongoing for many years in Kenya and is the biggest financial scandal in the country's history. It involved the laundering and exporting of hundreds of millions of dollars to, as yet, undisclosed parties. The commodities were allegedly gold, diamonds and rubies from more than one African nation. Using the network established by Mr Merali and Mr Schwartzman, which apparently involved the entire Kenyan cabinet under President Moi, the con job was made exceedingly easy.

Notice in the above the names associated with the owner of "Goldenberg International Limited"; Mr. Merali, the business associate of Mr. Schwartzman with whom the Miss Polier, "Kerry's intern" is currently residing. It appears then that even with the change of government, certain groups still hold enough influence to scupper an investigation that would surely uncover facts that would expose more than just Kenyan officials.

Parliament okeyed payment, Goldenberg Inquiry told

By Standard Correspondents

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Goldenberg Affair today heard how the money paid to the company as export compensation was so much that Parliament had to introduce a vote to "illegally" pay it.

The provision was sneaked in to parliament by the Ministry of Finance and it was baptised as "Customs Refund".

Former Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Excise Mr Philip Muli Mulili, said that the amounts of money being paid to Goldenberg International Limited were too huge that the Treasury had to seek the money through voting in Parliament.

He said it was only when Goldenberg International Limited came into the scene that the export compensation payment had to be tabled in parliament for the allocation of money to pay the company.

"In the beginning the normal 20 percent export compensation was paid without voting," Mulili told the Commission during an examination in Chief by Lead Counsel Dr John Khaminwa.

The money parliament voted to pay Goldenberg International was however paid by the Treasury instead of the normal channel of payment through the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.

Mulili had explained that parliament voted for the payment after the Ministry of Finance withheld information about the illegality of the move.

However the Commissioner of Customs and Excise Mr Cheruiyot and Mulili came under intense criticism by Commission chairman Justice Samuel Bosire for paying Goldenberg money without confirming from the Central Bank of Kenya that foreign exchange was received legally.

"Why didn't you check with the Central Bank of Kenya to ensure the foreign exchange came in the normal way?" Bosire questioned Mulili.

Bosire said it was upto the Customs department to ensure that foreign exchange was received in Kenya by the authorised dealers who were the Commercial Banks.

Mulili tried to explain that they were satisfied with information they received from the Commercial Banks and overlooked the possibility that the money could have been obtained from the local black market.

The Customs Department was further accused of laxity when did not ensure that the boxes used by Goldenberg International Limited to export gold and diamond jewellery were temper proof.

It came to light later on that the company was not only using wax seals on the metal boxes which could be tampered with but also used only a single seal number for a number of boxes.

The Commission said that the Commissioner of Customs and Excise could have investigated, required the production of relevant books and even made arrests when he discovered something was wrong or illegal somewhere.

The Commission heard that Goldenberg allegedly appeared to comply with the law but it was not.

Mulili however said that the Department of Mines and Geology did not reveal to them that they were not using the tamper proof seals.

He said they could not carry out investigations on officers who chose not to use tamper seal on the boxes containing gold and diamond jewellery for export as he only learnt about it when he appeared as a witness at the Commission.

The Customs Department also came under criticism for allegedly working with the Mines and Geology department to turn a blind eye to smuggling of diamonds and gold into the country.

Comment: The comment above about the wax seals on the cases containing gold and diamonds is interesting. It would seem to suggest that some or all of the contents of the cases went missing. We wonder where they ended up.

Information on the owners or founders of "Goldenberg International Limited" is difficult to come by. It appears that it is another more complex "front" for various businesses and banking institutions, some leading to Switzerland.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

335 million shillings worth of non-existent gold and diamonds were exported out of the country by Goldenberg International to a fictional Swiss company.

At the Goldenbery Inquiry, Swiss businessman Bernard Metzger said this amount was bought by Servino Securities and the company used his address and name in Switzerland.

But he claimed he was not a beneficiary of the deal, despite the fact that he had a personal account with Exchange Bank and received about 1 million shillings from companies related to Pattni.

He said this money was the proceeds from the sale of airline tickets in Nairobi.

The commission was not convinced by his answers and he was given time to present evidence showing why he received huge sums of money from Pattni.

Pattni, Kanyotu, three others owned aircraft

Plane was used to ferry gold from Zaire

Reports by Eliud Miring’uh and Biketi Kikechi
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

An aircraft used to ferry smuggled gold from Zaire by businessman Kamlesh Pattni in 1990 was co-owned by former Director of Intelligence James Kanyotu and three other tycoons.

Kanyotu, teaming up with businessman Naushad Merali, Mr M H Da Gama Rose, and Sheriff K Sheriff, had imported two aircraft from the United States in 1989 without paying duty following a letter of exemption issued by then Vice-President and Finance Minister, Prof George Saitoti.

Comment: Again, there is undoubtedly more to this story than we have been able to uncover so far. We find it very interesting that the Mombasa Paradise hotel was attacked and destroyed just days before the corrupt President Moi stepped down as Kenyan leader. Perhaps realising that their days of stealing from Kenya to finance Israel were over, the Mossad decided to use their Kenyan front in one last act of service to Israel. The faked "terrorist" attack and destruction of the Mombasa Paradise hotel served well to increase even further the hype and fear that Osama really is under your bed. It also served well to further the myth that ordinary Jews are at risk, given that the target was an Israeli business, at the time was packed with Israeli tourists. 13 kenyans died, along with 2 Israeli children, yet when your motto is "by way of deception thou shalt do war" those deaths are, it seems, acceptable collateral damage in the greater war that Israel is determined to fight to prove to the world that everyone hates the Jews. Of course this is simply not the case. With leaders that are prepared to sacrifice even their own people to achieve their goals, as always, it is the ordinary Jewish citizen that we are concerned for.

Watch the Signs of the Times in coming days for more analysis on this most interesting of current affairs...

The real voice of America: Torrents of mail poured in from the U.S. condemning the Bush administration

By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor
February 8, 2004

I've received a huge e-mail response from around the globe in reply to my last Sunday Sun column. In it, I contended that George Bush's fabricated war against Iraq was a far worse crime than Watergate, and said the president and his men were either liars or unbelievably inept.

Most messages, about seven in every 10 by my estimate, came from Americans.

These messages do not represent a reliable cross-section of U.S. public opinion, of course. They are simply what was known as a "convenience sample" when I worked in market research. But they reveal much about the changing mood in America.

Most were well-written messages from intelligent, educated people appalled by what their government had done.

I was stunned by the volume of bitterly anti-Bush mail from his home state, Texas.

In response to last week's shocking admission by Bush's arms hunter, David Kay, that "We were all wrong," a Chicago reader wrote: "No, David. You were wrong. Do not include me in your idiocy."

United Nations arms inspector Hans Blix, the French and German governments and their intelligence services, scores of Iraq experts, U.S. Arab allies, the unfairly slandered Scott Ritter, and this column all repeatedly warned there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq - certainly none capable of threatening the U.S.

Tenet ignored

Readers reminded me that in October, 2002, CIA director George Tenet informed Congress that Iraq posed no imminent threat. He was largely ignored.

Typically, half of my e-mail from Americans is hate mail of the vilest and most loutish kind from Bush-adoring rustics, neo-conservatives, and enraged religious militants. Last week, the vast majority was effusively supportive.

In recent months, bitter resentment boiling up across the U.S., and surging public anger over Iraq, have become evident. More and more Americans believe they were lied to, misled and/or defrauded by the Bush administration over Iraq - which one witty reader calls "Mess-Opotamia."

How ironic to see Martha Stewart being pilloried over a modest stock sale while President Bush, who misled Congress and America - taking them into a trumped-up war that to date has killed more than 500 Americans and 10,000 Iraqis - is running for re-election. A lot of mail came from Republicans and conservatives expressing disgust at the policies of their party, which, they say, has been hijacked by neo-conservative ideologues.

Pointless conflict

Many Vietnam veterans wrote to say they are deeply shamed by what their nation has done in Iraq.

Democrats are in full jihad mode, enraged at Bush and his phony war and the waste of billions on a pointless conflict when America lacks enough flu vaccine.

Numerous Democrats still believe the 2000 election was stolen, and are determined to see Bush & Co. ousted from office. Expect a high voter turnout in November, particularly among women.

Some Israelis wrote, expressing anguish that their nation's rightist Likud party had, in their view, co-operated with rightists in the Bush administration to help promote the Iraq war.

Many readers expressed particular anger and contempt for the pro-war U.S. media.

"Rent-a-journalist" and "fools" were some of the gentler terms being hurled at the media. As one reader noted, "The media were not embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq, they were in bed."


Many Americans are furious the media acted as a shill for the Bush administration's war policy, whipped up hysteria, and eagerly trumpeted White House propaganda. In their minds, the media, and particularly the most stridently pro-war newspapers and cable news channels, have been badly discredited by the Iraq disaster.

During the Iraq war, the Internet became a sort of "Radio Free America" that gave the lie to all the White House's war propaganda promoted by the mainstream media.

Media failed

The media deserve censure. Since 9/11, some North American media have increasingly resembled the old, boot-licking Soviet press in the days of Chairman Leonid Brezhnev, rather than an inquiring free press.

Most readers viewed the intelligence investigation announced by Bush as a cynical whitewash and a delaying tactic. British readers say the same about Prime Minister Tony Blair's investigation and the recent Hutton inquiry that found the respected BBC guilty, and Blair innocent - a farce straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

Readers say they are mad as hell, but don't know what to do. They express a loss of trust in their government I've not heard since the days of Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Many think the Howard Dean campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was sabotaged by the pro-Bush corporate media - a view I partly share.

Even more fear November's election will again be "stolen," or a "terrorism crisis" will occur, staged to win votes.

Finally, Sun Media was roundly blasted for being so stridently wrong about Iraq. But it was also strongly lauded by readers for printing and putting online my non-conformist views, however much it disagreed with them.

Comment: Yes, the media were "in bed" with Bush on Iraq. Now all of a sudden, the lies and manipulation that weren't clear to these illustrious scribes a year ago are being discussed in the mainstream US media, although these lies were so glaring and outrageous and evident enough to millions of others the world over that they took to the streets to protests and denounce them. What has changed? We have a hard time believing that these journalists have suddenly developed clear vision, even if retroactively. What is the agenda?

The Despoiling of America: How George W. Bush became the head of the new American Dominionist Church/State

By Katherine Yurica
With Editorial and Research Assistant Laurie Hall

The First Prince of the Theocratic States of America

It happened quietly, with barely a mention in the media. Only the Washington Post dutifully reported it.[1] And only Kevin Phillips saw its significance in his new book, American Dynasty.[2] On December 24, 2001, Pat Robertson resigned his position as President of the Christian Coalition.

Behind the scenes religious conservatives were abuzz with excitement. They believed Robertson had stepped down to allow the ascendance of the President of the United States of America to take his rightful place as the head of the true American Holy Christian Church.

Robertson’s act was symbolic, but it carried a secret and solemn revelation to the faithful. It was the signal that the Bush administration was a government under God that was led by an anointed President who would be the first regent in a dynasty of regents awaiting the return of Jesus to earth. The President would now be the minister through whom God would execute His will in the nation. George W. Bush accepted his scepter and his sword with humility, grace and a sense of exultation.

[...] The interview conducted by Brian Copeland a news talk show host for KGO, San Francisco on September 5, 2003, was with the Reverend Donald Spitz of Pensacola, Florida who is involved with a Pro Life group in Virginia and with the Army of God. The occasion was the execution of Paul Hill, another Pentecostal minister who murdered a doctor and his body guard outside an abortion clinic. Hill was caught and convicted of the crimes. Spitz admitted that he was Paul Hill’s spiritual counselor. He said Hill died with the conviction he had done the Lord’s work. Spitz who approved of the murder said, “Someone else is going to handle the publishing of Paul Hill’s book On How to Assassinate.”

Spitz believed that Hill was completely justified in murdering the physician because, according to him, “twenty-six babies’ lives were saved by the killing.” When Copeland pointed out that the scheduled abortions for the morning of the murders would have simply been postponed to another day—and that the lives of the fetuses were only extended for a day or so, Spitz refused to accept the argument.

Not surprisingly, Spitz opposed the use of birth control methods. Copeland asked, “If a woman is raped should she be forced to carry the fetus to term?” Spitz said, “Yes.”

“What if the pregnancy will kill the mother?” Spitz replied that under no circumstances could “the baby be killed.” When Spitz was asked, “Why haven’t you gone out and killed an abortionist?” he replied calmly, “God hasn’t told me to do the killing.”

Comment: We have run a number of stories on the Signs page about people who hear voices that they think are from God commanding them to kill. These are stories of people who have been arrested and locked up. Then there is the curious history of George W. Bush who heard the voice of God tell him to invade Iraq.

Rybkin Says He Was Abducted

By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer
Monday, Feb. 16, 2004. Page 3

Rybkin's hands resting on his statement at a news conference in London on Friday.

Presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin said Friday that he had been drugged and abducted during his five-day disappearance last week, and that he was the victim of a "special operation" to discredit him.

Speaking to reporters in London, Rybkin said he had been lured to Kiev by a false offer to hold peace talks with Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, but instead had been drugged and held against his will by armed men, who showed him a compromising videotape apparently taken during his abduction.

He refused to say who was behind the abduction, or what the videotape contained, except to say that it was made by "horrible perverts."

Rybkin said he would continue his election campaign, which has been sharply critical of President Vladimir Putin and has advocated an end to hostilities in Chechnya, from abroad, and would not return to Russia until after the March 14 election.

Rybkin said that he had not given the real reasons for his absence when interviewed in Moscow out of fears for his safety.

Rybkin, a former Security Council chief and State Duma speaker who leads one wing of the Liberal Russia party, said that he went to Kiev on Feb. 5, after receiving the offer of peace talks with Maskhadov.

In Kiev, Rybkin said he was taken to an apartment, where his hosts gave him tea and sandwiches.

It was then, he said, that he started to feel drowsy. Four days later he woke up in a different apartment, "smashed and very tired," and guarded by two armed men.

One of the men told Rybkin that it was a "special operation" and showed him what Rybkin called a "disgusting" videotape of him that they said would compromise him.

They then told him to call Moscow and say he was taking a vacation and was fine. A third man came in later and took Rybkin to the airport, from where he flew to Moscow, the statement said.

In a video linkup with Moscow later Friday, Ksenia Ponomaryova, Rybkin's campaign manager, said that doctors in London had found signs that he might have been gassed through a mask while unconscious.

According to Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Service officer granted political asylum in Britain, Rybkin could have been given the psychotropic drug SP-117, a substance developed in Moscow for use by the secret services, judging from his interviews in Moscow last week.

"The man looked as though he had a bad hangover, as if he had been on a drinking bout," Litvinenko told Ekho Moskvy radio on Saturday. "But as far as I know, Rybkin doesn't drink at all. There was the confused way he was talking for the first few days, when he couldn't explain what had happened to him."

The offer for negotiations with Maskhadov came from Bekhan Arsaliyev, a human rights activist Rybkin knew from his time in the late 1990s on a Chechnya missing persons commission, Rybkin said.

Arriving in Moscow late last Tuesday, Rybkin's explanations for his absence, including the rambling hourlong interview on Ekho Moskvy the next day, appeared vague and incoherent.

Amid reports that he might quit the election race, Rybkin flew to London on Thursday to consult with Boris Berezovsky, who funds his campaign.

On Friday, Rybkin said he would pursue his bid. "I don't know who did this, but I know who benefited from this," he said.

Ponomaryova told reporters that Rybkin wants to take part in televised debates through a video link from London, an option that Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov said Friday was possible, Interfax reported.

Analysts varied on what to make of Rybkin's account of events, from saying that he was "finished" as a political force to believing that he had been the victim of a sting.

Dmitry Orlov, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, doubted Rybkin over the cited videotape. "Let's suppose the tape is of a sexual nature," he said. "It would have been impossible to shoot if a person were affected by psychotropic substances."

Kremlin-linked analyst Sergei Markov called Rybkin's behavior "either PR in Berezovsky's style or an attempt to pull out of the election," while analyst Gleb Pavlovsky said that Rybkin had "only one way to go -- private life."

"The [idea] that either Martians or the KGB fed him a poisoned sandwich is simply ridiculous," Pavlovsky said, Interfax reported.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, said that Rybkin could well be the victim of the affair. But "whatever the reasons, the disappearance has hugely discredited Rybkin and anything he says will now be taken ironically," Pribylovsky said.

Rybkin Affair Is No Laughing Matter

By Matt Bivens
Monday, Feb. 16, 2004. Page 8

Back in 1994, Grigory Yavlinsky's older son, Mikhail, was a piano player in his early 20s. Unknown assailants mangled Mikhail's hands. They also stuffed a note in his pocket warning his father to get out of politics.

Soon after, parents and teachers were pleading with the Yabloko leader to withdraw his younger son, Alexei, from school: They feared getting caught up as collateral damage in an anti-Yavlinsky car bomb, or worse.

The Yavlinskys appealed to the government. But by 1995, an inconclusive police investigation was closed, and the Boris Yeltsin Kremlin had shrugged off pleas for federal protection.

"[Yavlinsky] was told to hire his own bodyguards, or to otherwise look to his family's safety. So he hid his children," said Yevgenia Dillendorf, a Yabloko press secretary.

Mikhail, 32, and Alexei, 23, today live in England. Dillendorf says the British government -- unlike the Russian -- has formally agreed to guarantee their safety.

[...] When Ivan Rybkin disappeared, I joked that he was just out on one of those epic benders celebrated in the Soviet film "Ironiya Sudby," or "The Irony of Fate."

As I was chuckling at my wit, Yavlinsky was quoted sternly warning that jokes were inappropriate: A candidate for president had gone missing. Rybkin resurfaced, with his hair-raisingly erratic explanations, and I couldn't help agreeing with Yavlinsky -- and remembering he spoke from harsh experience.

Schröder Rejects Calls to Soften Reforms

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Saturday defended his reform course at a regional party congress of his Social Democrats, rejecting calls that the government's welfare cuts were jeopardizing the party's future.

Comment: While Schröder continues to face opposition from the militants in his party, the French paper Liberation is reporting that the Chiracians are trying to move the Congress of their party up from next November to sometime in June. They are hoping that this will not give Nicolas Sarkozy the time to organize enough support to win the leadership of the party. Chirac is said to be pushing PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin to run for the job. Chirac does not want Sarkozy to get the post and use it to organize his campaign for the presidency in 2007.

Also in French news, the President of Israel is visiting the country for the first time in fourteen years. A ceremonial post, the president will be meeting with French government officials to try and promote closer relations between the two countries. This will include a Franco-Israeli scientific project. Discussions on the rise of so-called "anti-Semitism" in France will also be discussed. Of course, as our readers know, the new meaning of "anti-Semitic" is anyone who opposes Israel in any way whatsoever. The French point out that the number of reports anti-Semitic activities has dropped by 40% from 2002 to 2003.

A Third Way for Turkey?

Angela Merkel, head of Germany's opposition Christian Democrats, heads to Turkey this week for talks about Ankara's desire to join the EU. Merkel opposes full membership, but wants to offer Turkey a special partnership.

[...] Many Turks believe that a lot of European politicians are opposed to Turkish membership because it is a Muslim country and the EU is "Christian club." Now, Erdogan hopes to convince Merkel that his AKP party simply is modern conservative party with religious roots like her Christian Democrats.

Terror groups flourish in Canada: U.S. report

Last Updated Sun, 15 Feb 2004 23:04:41

WASHINGTON - Canada is "a favoured destination" for terrorists and organized crime groups because of lax law enforcement, proximity to the United States and a generous social welfare system, a U.S. report says.

Terrorists and organized crime groups "increasingly are using Canada as an operational base and transit country en route to the United States," says the study, Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism.

The report, prepared by Library of Congress research staff working with the Central Intelligence Crime and Narcotics Center, cites only two cases of terrorist activity in Canada:

  • A news report that the Lebanese group Hezbollah laundered "tens of thousands" of dollars through Canadian banks to buy "blasting devices, night-vision goggles, powerful computers and camera equipment to record attacks against Israeli forces."
  • Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested in December 1999 on his way to the United States from Canada with bomb-making material he planned to use to attack the Los Angeles airport.

Using public documents and media reports, some dating from 1999, the report says Canada's policies attract large numbers of illegal immigrants, including terrorists.

Ottawa's immigration laws "are arguably the foremost factor in making Canada hospitable to terrorists and international criminals." Once here, the long and lightly-defended border makes it easy for them to enter the United States, according to the report.

Canada's concern with civil liberties also makes it easy for illegal immigrants, the report says. "The fact that the 2002 bill designed to make Canada's immigration laws less favourable to terrorists and international criminals is entitled the 'Immigration and Refugee Protection Act' serves as an indication of the prevailing concern for civil liberties in Canada."

The government has moved to tighten laws designed to make life harder for terrorists with new immigration rules and adding more groups to a list of illegal organizations, which limits their ability to raise money in Canada.

But whether the laws will work "will depend in large part on whether a new balance between civil liberties and security concerns will yield effective prevention."

Canada accounts for 10 of the 234 pages in the report, which covers the whole world. Many countries, including Britain, France and Germany, are also criticized.

Comment: It is clear that any document that comes from Washington dealing with security is going to justify the repressive Bush regime and their barbarous politics. Here we see the self-styled "bastion of freedom" denouncing Canada for being overly concerned with civil liberties! But we shouldn't expect to find much in the way of proof from the people who assured us that Iraq was rife with weapons of mass destruction. They offer only two examples of Canada's close links to terrorism, and one of these is a news report with assertions about Hezbollah, a group in Lebanon fighting against the Israeli military occupation of the border regions between Israel and Lebanon.

Those with a memory that goes back further than last week will remember that the first reports on 9/11 suggested that the "terrorists" came to Boston via Halifax, that is, they got into the US through the Canadian border. This was later established to be a false claim, simply another headline in the campaign to build distrust among Americans for Canada.

But this is a political document serving to justify the politics of the American far right. Notice that terrorists love Canada because of its "generous social welfare system." As if the CIA doesn't pay its operatives enough to live!

Austria, anyone?

Tutu tells Blair: Apologise for 'immoral' war

By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
16 February 2004

Archbishop Desmond Tutu will challenge Tony Blair and George Bush today to apologise for their pursuit of a counter-productive and "immoral" war in Iraq.

In a scathing analysis of the background to the invasion, he will ridicule the "dangerously flawed" intelligence that Britain and the US used to justify a military action which has made the world a "great deal less safe".

Bremer pins hopes on UN as exit strategy from Iraq

By Justin Huggler in Baghdad
The Independent
16 February 2004

As the violence continued in Iraq yesterday, the head of the American occupation administration admitted the US was waiting for the United Nations to find a way out of the impasse on handing over power to Iraqis. Speaking on two American talk shows, Paul Bremer admitted the US was now pinning its hopes on the UN, an organisation it had written off as irrelevant at the time of the invasion of Iraq. Rejected by the Americans and forced to flee Iraq last year after two bombings, the UN is suddenly back in the frame in Iraq.

US hopes of getting at least partly out of the quagmire that Iraq has become and handing power to an Iraqi interim administration by President Bush's deadline of 30 June are looking more troubled than ever after Saturday's attack in Fallujah, in which insurgents stormed an Iraqi police station, killing at least 21, and an Iraqi army garrison.

The US administration is desperate to get its troops out of harm's way before Mr Bush faces re-election in November.

American plans to hand over political power to an interim Iraqi government also look to be in as much trouble. Mr Bremer said yesterday in interviews on ABC's This Week and CNN's Late Editions that the US may be about to ditch its plan to choose an interim Iraqi government with regional caucuses. Diplomats have already said the plan is dead in the water after it was rejected by the spiritual leader of Iraq's Shia majority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Ayatollah Sistani is demanding direct elections, which the US claims there is not time to organise by June.

Mr Bremer insisted that Mr Bush's deadline to hand over power still stood, though he could not say how an interim government would be chosen. He said the Americans were waiting for the recommendations of an UN mission recently sent to find a way out of the impasse, under Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat. Mr Bremer said: "We're waiting to see what he [Mr Brahimi] says when he issues his report, hopefully in the next week or 10 days." He said the eventual solution "may be different from the caucus plan". [...]

Bomb attack at Baghdad school

13:27 Monday 16th February 2004

A bomb has exploded in a school yard in a Shiite Muslim neighbourhood of Baghdad killing two people believed to be children, and wounding three others.

Iraqi police found a second unexploded bomb in the school grounds and called in a US military bomb disposal team.

The ages of the victims of the blast were not released.

Soldiers' bodies found in river

From correspondents in Mosul, Iraq
February 15, 2004

THE bodies of three US soldiers who went missing last month were found in the Tigris river by Iraqi police, a US military spokesman said today.

Two went missing when their helicopter splashed down in the Tigris near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on January 25.

They were on a mission to find another US soldier lost in the waters when a patrol boat capsized.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Piek, a spokesman for the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said the remains of the two pilots were found on Wednesday while those of the soldier whose boat capsized were found today.

He said the army gave two modern boats and diving equipment to members of the Iraqi river police who found the bodies.

Al-Qaeda 'targeted World Cup'

From correspondents in Tokyo
February 15, 2004

A SENIOR member of the al-Qaeda terror network told US authorities that the group had planned to carry out attacks in Japan during the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament, Japanese media reported today.

US authorities had advised Japan of the information, which was believed to have come from the militant Islamic group's third-ranking official, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the daily Sankei newspaper reported, citing anonymous government sources.

The attacks were not carried out because al-Qaeda did not have a network in Japan, which hosted the 2002 event jointly with South Korea, according to Sankei. [...]

Ohio Highway Shooting Confirmed As 24th

Feb 15, 9:59 PM (ET)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The day after the chief investigator said authorities were closing in on a serial highway shooter, a man stood in plain view on an overpass and fired a handgun at cars below. He then walked to his car and slipped into traffic.

Ballistics testing has confirmed that the Saturday morning shooting was the 24th in a series in the Columbus area, investigators said Sunday. No one was injured in that shooting.

The bullet recovered from the battery of a sport utility vehicle struck on Interstate 70 matches eight others recovered during the investigation, including the one that killed a woman in November, according to a release. The others have been linked by factors including location and circumstances. [...]

1971 Photo of Kerry Doctored

By Michael Rothfeld
Staff Writer

As a 20-year-old photographer documenting the country's struggle over the Vietnam War, Ken Light snapped the picture of John Kerry at a peace rally in Mineola. It captured the future senator alone at a podium, squinting into the sun.

Light did not photograph Jane Fonda on that warm June Sunday in 1971. The actress, who is reviled by many Vietnam veterans for her vocal stance against the war, did not even attend.

But when opponents of the Democratic presidential hopeful began e-mailing Light's picture to one another four days ago, it depicted Fonda standing by Kerry's side. The photo had been doctored.

"I'm horrified," said Light, 52, who grew up in East Meadow and now heads the graduate photojournalism program at the University of California at Berkeley. "I think this kind of alteration is probably one of the scariest forms of trickery, particularly when it's done against a political candidate." [...]

Two-year wait for Saddam trial: Iraqi officials report delays in setting up tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity

Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Monday February 16, 2004
The Guardian

Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein is unlikely to stand trial for at least another two years, the Guardian has learned.

The Iraqi special tribunal for crimes against humanity is months away from hearing its first case, and when the trials begin in October or November the first defendants to appear will be high-ranking Ba'ath party officials.

[...] Iraqi officials want to prevent [Saddam] politicising his trial in the way the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has done by calling in former western government leaders to account for the support they showed Saddam before the first Gulf war in 1991.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who visited Saddam in 1983 and 1984, is among those who could face unwelcome questioning.

[...] But already there have been serious criticisms of the court. Human Rights Watch described it as "fundamentally flawed" last month because it will use judges who have no experience of crimes against humanity, because the death penalty is not prohibited and because there is no explicit insistence that guilt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Iraqi tribe determined to claim land back

Samawa, Iraq - The al-Zeyad Bedouin tribe is determined to claim back land which it says was usurped by Saddam Hussein in the southern Iraqi town of Samawa - and is equally eager to rent it out to the newly-arrived Japanese troops for a hefty sum.

The tribe's dominant al-Hanaj and al-Balha families claim the joint ownership of this vast expanse of grey sterile earth which sprawls endlessly on either side of the Baghdad-Basra rail link, 270km south of the capital.

Mohammad Zamal Al-Hanaj spends all day squatting on the side of the road where a dusty trail veers off towards the base the Japanese troops are building, keeping watching on his empire of dust.

Iraqi neighbours voice concern

Kuwait - Conflict-torn Iraq and its six neighbours concluded talks in Kuwait on Sunday with a call for a central role for the United Nations in Iraq, including supervision of elections and of the transfer of power to Iraqis.

In a final statement after a two-day meeting, they also said it was vital to eliminate "all terrorist and other armed groups from Iraqi territory that constitute a danger for the neighbouring states".[...]

[...]"There are incidents of infiltration (into Iraq) from the outside. I do not want to accuse anyone, but most of the suicide and terrorist operations are not carried out by Iraqis," Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari told a news conference.

Jerusalem wall collapse sparks row

Monday 16 February 2004, 0:06 Makka Time, 21:06 GMT

The collapse of part of a stone embankment adjacent to Jerusalem's Western Wall during a rare snowstorm has sparked a row between Jewish and Muslim clerics.

The collapse late on Saturday next to where Jewish women pray at the site commonly known as the "wailing wall" sent people fleeing from tumbling rocks.

The Muslim authority for the area, the Waqf, blamed Israeli building work nearby for the problem; but an Israeli architect said construction by Arabs was making the wall unstable.

[...] Engineers were also looking at whether a small earthquake last week might have played a part in the incident.

Ayoon wa Azan (Waiting For Democracy)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/02/15

[...] I will now talk about some lacking aspects of democracy in the Middle East. Are Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia currently banned in Iraq? Whenever I read about any of the two networks, it is either because they were banned, or the ban has been lifted, or banned again. I read neo-conservatives literature, which said that democracy in Iraq would be a model for the rest of the Arab countries. However, they are pioneers in banning media and threaten media people. Thus, we demand another aspect of Western democracy for us to emulate.

I am being ironic. However, I seriously acknowledge that the U.S. democracy is magnificent; we will not be able to reach such a democracy in decades, perhaps centuries. Nevertheless, nothing is perfect.

American democracy brought George W. Bush as president; despite losing the popular vote (by half a million votes) to Al Gore. Finally, Gore publicly stated that the Bush administration planned for war on Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, before 9/11.

Once again, American democracy is great, but thankfully we do not have it; if we did, we would have someone like George W. Bush as president of an Arab country.

The Race Between Sectarian Strife And Transfer Of Power

Raghida Dergham Al-Hayat 2004/02/13

The plan of igniting a sectarian conflict in Iraq has many supporters whose identity is so far concealed yet, their aim is clear; to conspire against the Iraqi people. Some consider the partition of Iraq along sectarian lines the most practical way to avoid a sectarian war. However, the situation in Iraq today is a troubled occupation and a troubled "resistance," both of which threaten Iraq's unity. For not only the occupation is foreign but so is the "resistance." This week, a document attributed to Abu Massab Al Zarkawi, called for a sectarian conflict that targets Shiites. If the American forces are to be driven out, such a war is needed, according to Al Qaeda, before the transfer of power to the Iraqis at the end of June. Al Qaeda previously wanted the Americans out of Saudi Arabia, that resulted in a larger American presence in Iraq. Iraqis do not want to be the alternative battleground of the war between the Americans and Al Qaeda. Yet, it seems that the two parties have a common interest, though for contradicting reasons, which is igniting a sectarian conflict that would help partition Iraq.

'Don't mix politics with justice'

The former chief executive officer of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has warned bluntly that selective prosecution of apartheid-era human rights violators would undermine reconciliation.

Fearing political use of the issue in an election year, Dr Biki Minyuku said although it was right that ex-security police colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt should be prosecuted for the murder of the Pebco Three, all other perpetrators denied amnesty, or who did not submit to the process, also ought to face prosecution.

[...]"We are looking at the crimes committed and will go wherever the evidence leads us, even if it leads us to a high profile politician, because no one is above the law," he said.

Nkosi refused to divulge details, merely noting that the authority had a policy not to divulge sensitive information. He confirmed that jailed apartheid killer and Vlakplaas ex-head Eugene de Kock was co-operating with the crime litigation unit.

The former death squad commander, sentenced to 212 years in prison in Pretoria, testified last week before the Jali inquiry into prisons.

Rewriting apartheid's history books

[...] Before white rule ended in 1994, pupils were taught history along colour lines: white children were told that apartheid represented the ruling Afrikaners' right to self-determination, while for black students, history lessons ended with 1948, the year the white nationalists came to power.[...]

[...] Before 1994, teachers "presented apartheid history as a set of political acts, completely out of any meaningful or analytical political context, leaving no room for debate," said Claudia Bickford-Smith, a commissioning editor at Oxford University Press in Cape Town.

"Afrikaners during the 1800s were like Israel amongst the heathen nations and faced extinction if they did not maintain their identity," reads one history book, printed in 1970 and used by white final-year high school students.

"The Old Testament exercised a great influence on their spiritual attitude, especially on the distant frontiers where their existence was constantly threatened by wild and barbaric primitive races," it added.

Since 1994, educators have been at pains to correct that sort of distorted and racist view of history, Bickford-Smith said.

Thirsty Tanzania slams colonial water treaty

Dar Es Salaam - Tanzania is not bound by a treaty, signed in 1929 when the east African country was under British colonial rule, which requires it to seek permission from Egypt to use water from Lake Victoria, the government insisted on Sunday.

Tanzanian Water and Livestock Development Minister Edward Lowassa said the country's founding president, Julius Nyerere, had told the United Nations in 1962 he rejected the Nile Waters Agreement and that position still held.[...]

[...]Tanzania, which is south of Lake Victoria, has been reminded it must seek Cairo's permission before implementing plans to draw water from the lake for its semi-arid northern regions of Shinyanga and Kahama.

But it has vowed not to do so and recently signed an agreement with a Chinese firm to construct a pipeline that will take water from the lake to 420 000 residents of two major towns in the north.

Ugandan media hail lifting of colonial law

[...]The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a section of the penal code that banned the reporting of "false" news likely to cause "fear and alarm" among the public in response to a petition by reporters from the independent Monitor newspaper.

"It's a very significant landmark because for the first time in Uganda the right to freedom of expression has been upheld," said Robert Kabushenga, media lawyer with the state-owned New Vision daily.

Racial tension plagues Australia

Sydney's Aboriginal ghetto is a few streets of dilapidated houses, some abandoned, graffiti-smeared and occupied by black junkies, adjacent to the Redfern railway station a few kilometres from the city's central business district.

[...]Called "The Block", it is a no-man's-land for white Australians and has been the site of angry confrontations between Aborigines and police for years.

The entrance to "The Block" looks like a military checkpoint, with concrete and wire fencing at the top of the main road. But instead of armed guards there is usually a motley group of alcoholics and drug addicts ready to confront strangers.

The local park is named after Pemulwuy, the first Aboriginal warrior, who was decapitated by white settlers in 1802 and his head placed in a jar and sent to England.[...]

Russia claims world's oldest humans

Russia claims to be home to the world's five oldest living human beings - all of them women aged 124, according to census workers.

The women are all said to be a full decade decade older than the world's official oldest living woman Charlotte Benkner of North Lima, Ohio, who was born on November 16, 1889.

They would also beat the record for the oldest woman who ever lived held by French woman Jeanne-Louise Calment who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days in 1997.

Kashmir jumpy after bomb blast

Srinagar, India - Fourteen Indian soldiers and three civilians were wounded in disputed Kashmir on Sunday when suspected Muslim militants set off a bomb in a market as a military patrol passed by, police said.

The attack in Qazigund, 71km south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, came a day ahead of first formal talks between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan in Islamabad in nearly three years.

China makes no bones about corpse show

[...] On view were works of plastination, a craft of preserving corpses made infamous by its pioneer, German Gunther Von Hagens, whose scalpel jobs have alternately fascinated and nauseated viewers from London to Seoul and prompted legal scrutiny of his corpse trade across Europe and China - now his main base.[...]

[...] Few visitors questioned the museum's intentions. After all, it has long been home to a notorious set of miscarried embryos and foetuses arranged by size, like Russian dolls.

More curious were the doubts some viewers kept raising: were the flayed human carcasses "real dead people"?

The notion may have been hard to fathom. To most Chinese, surviving superstitions and Confucian mores make violating the bodies of their dead a blasphemous act, leaving them vulnerable to the return of vengeful spirits.

Many people burn money and sweep graves for ancestors as though they remain alive and well even in an era when cities require their corpses be reduced to ashes rather than buried intact, to conserve arable land [...]

'New man' isn't new at all

The concept of the emotionally-open "New Man" is actually pretty old, according to new research.

Historian Dr Rebecca Earle, from the University of Warwick, says the Latin Lotharios of the 16th century were getting in touch with their emotions long before "New Men" started crying at romantic movies.

Dr Earle claims that while Englishmen in the 1500s still firmly believed in the value of a stiff upper lip, their Spanish counterparts were already in touch with their feminine side.

Police raid Japanese cult

[...] Some 200 police officers stormed into the main office of the former Aum Shinrikyo cult in Tokyo, while smaller units checked 10 other locations.

The local media said the raids were the biggest since the cult reorganised and renamed itself Aleph in 2000.

The raids came just days before the expected court verdict on Aum cult leader, Shoko Asahara.[...]

Doctor suggests 'symbolic' mutilation

[...] Florence-based Dr Omar Abdulcadir has proposed that the hospital where he works should allow him to perform the operation, to prevent women taking their children back to Africa to have it done illegally.

Genital mutilation, a traditional practice amongst many African communities, has been linked with a number serious injuries and malformations - including a risk of death in childbirth.

[...] However, other women's groups have attacked Dr Abdulcadir's plans, arguing that female genital mutilation should not be allowed in any form.

"We are very angry about this," Marian Ismail, president of the Milan-based Association of Somali Mothers and Children, told Outlook.

"We are working against FGM and of course, as African women, we are against this operation on girls' bodies."

She added that, while it was important to preserve the differences between African and Western culture, this did not apply to FGM.

And she argued that her group had been explaining to Somali women that FGM was not a part of Islamic tradition.[...]

Farthest Known Object From Earth Detected

By ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer
February 16, 2004

PASADENA, Calif. - In a discovery that offers a rare glimpse back to when the universe was just 750 million years old, a team of astrophysicists said they have detected a tiny galaxy that is the farthest known object from Earth.

"We are confident it is the most distant known object," California Institute of Technology astronomer Richard Ellis said Sunday of the galaxy, which lies roughly 13 billion light-years from Earth.

The team uncovered the faint galaxy using two of the most powerful telescopes — one in space, the other in Hawaii — aided by the natural magnification provided by a massive cluster of galaxies. The gravitational tug of the cluster, called Abell 2218, deflects the light of the distant galaxy and magnifies it many times over.

The magnification process, first proposed by Albert Einstein and known as "gravitational lensing," produces double images of the galaxy.

"Without the magnification of 25 afforded by the foreground cluster, this early object could simply not have been identified or studied in any detail with presently available telescopes," said astronomer Jean-Paul Kneib, of Caltech and the Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees in France.

The discovery gives a rare glimpse of the time when the first stars and galaxies began to blink on, ending a period that cosmologists call the Dark Ages, said Robert Kirshner, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. [...]

Bird Flu Kills Thai Leopard in Rare Case

February 16, 2004

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Asia's rampaging bird flu has killed a rare leopard in Thailand, making the leap into exotic animals after killing at least 20 people and afflicting millions of chickens, Thai officials said Monday.

Tests confirmed the clouded leopard kept in a zoo near Bangkok had died of the same virulent H5N1 avian virus that has hit eight Asian countries. [...]

Zoo gorillas to be given TVs

11:02 Monday 16th February 2004

Moscow Zoo keepers are to fit televisions in the cages of their gorillas in a bid to make them "think more".

Zoo director Vladimir Spitsyn said the gorillas will be able to watch films about the life of monkeys and great apes in the wild among other subjects.

He said that similar projects had shown that by allowing animals to watch television their cognitive abilities improved.

He said: "We want them to spend less time picking their noses and more time thinking about life."

The TVs will be introduced into the gorillas' cages this summer, reports Pravda

Hostile People May Be 'Born to Smoke', Study Finds

Fri Feb 13, 8:13 AM ET Add Oddly Enough - Reuters to My Yahoo!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People with hostile or aggressive personality traits may have genetic tendencies that make them "born to smoke," U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

Brain imaging studies suggest that the same genetic variations that give people hostile personality traits may also make them more likely to become addicted to nicotine, the team at the University of California Irvine reported.

"We call this brain response a 'born to smoke' pattern," Dr. Steven Potkin, a professor of psychiatry and a brain imaging specialist who led the study, said in a statement.

Potkin's team was following up on evidence suggesting that people with hostile personality traits are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes and have trouble kicking the habit.

Comment: You all know where this is going, right? They are going to turn the equation around and start justifying the "war on smoking" with the notion that "smokers are hostile." "See, I just tried to tell them not to smoke and they got upset!"

Moderate earthquake rocks Taiwan

Monday, February 16, 2004 (Taipei): A moderate earthquake jolted Taiwan's eastern coast today, the Central Weather Bureau said, but no damage or injuries were reported.

The 4.8-magnitude tremor's epicenter was just off the coast in the Pacific Ocean near the city of Hualien, about 150 kilometres southeast of the capital, Taipei. [...]

Hundreds evacuated as storms lash NZ


Flood waters rose and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes after storms lashed central New Zealand today. Rescuers found no trace of two men missing at sea and presumed drowned, police said.

Winds gusting up to 100 mph felled hundreds of trees, tore roofs from houses, and blocked roads in southern North Island. Weather forecasters said the winds were easing, but more heavy rain was expected.

Helicopters were used to pluck at least seven families from rooftops in the Manawatu farm region north of the capital, Wellington, as floodwaters surged through their homes.

On the west coast, rising rivers and a looming high tide at the seaside settlement of Tangimoana caused civil defence staff and army troops to evacuate more than 250 people.

At Lower Hutt city, nine miles north of Wellington, more than 150 people were evacuated from a campground as floodwaters flowed through parked cars. [...]

Aleut elders help name undersea volcano

Anchorage Daily News

The Aleutian Chain's first confirmed undersea volcano -- a dramatic coral-covered cone that rises 1,900 feet from the abyss of Amchitka Pass -- has been given a name in Unangan, the Aleut language.

Call it Amchixtam Chaxsxii, or Amchitka Reef. [...]

The volcano comes within 380 feet of the surface a few miles off Amchitka and Semisopochnoi islands, more than 1,000 miles southwest of Anchorage. [...]

A traditional story from Atka describes how hunters witnessed the emergence of Kasatochi Island, a 1,030-foot volcano about 60 miles west of Atka. [...]

Boy sacrificed at brick kiln

Patna, Feb. 14: A five-year-old boy was kidnapped and sacrificed at a brick kiln at Dhuranbigaha village in Bihar’s Aurangabad district.

Vikas Kumar, the son of a labourer, was allegedly thrown into a fire after his eyes were pierced, tongue and ears cut off and throat slit. [...]

Organ traffickers 'threaten' nuns

Four Catholic nuns say they have received death threats after exposing an organ trafficking network allegedly operating in northern Mozambique.

The traffickers are said to target the sex organs of children, which are sold to make magic charms. [...]

Ireland's 'e-voting' plan causing short-circuits among opponents

15 February 2004

At the next European Parliament elections in June, Ireland's voters might find themselves registering their choice with the push of a button rather than a stroke of a pen -- a change which has traditionalists fuming. [...]

[...] "Imagine if your bank said: 'We are no longer going to give you receipts for any transaction or to issue account statements; you won't be able to check how much money you have, but trust us, we'll tell you the correct amount'. Would you continue to do business with such a bank?" [...]

Racial tension plagues Australia

Sydney - Aborigines rioted in Sydney's black ghetto of Redfern on Sunday night over the death of a young Aboriginal cyclist, hurling Molotov cocktails and bricks at police in a nine-hour battle. [...]

This bed’s taken

LAST year, Jeffrey (not his real name) checked into a room in a hotel in Singapore. He began to have this uneasy feeling that there was someone else in the room and on the third day, his suspicions were confirmed. But the brave sales executive decided to stay on after striking a “deal” with the ghost.  [...]

Comment: The link has several strange, frightening tales suitable for telling around the camp fire.

On this day in 1986

First report of a haunting in Picardy, France. Beginning the previous year, red droplets appeared on the carpet and walls; the Belmer family cleared them off. Later, the drops re-appeared, and they heard the sound of breaking crockery in the kitchen: the next morning nothing was broken, but their pillows were splattered red. Tests showed it was blood. [Source: forteantimes.com]

In search of other-worldly truths

Whether it's UFOs or lost underwater cities, Taiwan's fringe scientific societies hope to make monkeys out of their doubters over the coming year and prove once and for all that the truth is really out here [...]

On this day in 2000

Bob Streeter, his wife and two friends reported, "three fiery balls of light in the sky above Rockford from Streeter's driveway," in Rockford, Illinois.

"Their glow was like watching a barn or a house fire in the distance. It was like a bonfire," Streeter said. "The first grouping was three (lights) spaced apart like a triangle. The next was three above and one considerably double in length down below it." Streeter first saw the lights at 9:30 p.m . He said they floated slowly, then vanished.

Their report was just one of many similar sightings of these strange lights in the area. [Source: Unusual fiery orbs seen locally: Area residents have reported seeing several versions of UFOs]

Mysteries of distant moons await earthly oceanographers

SEATTLE (AP) — The skills and technology used to explore the extreme depths of the Earth's oceans will soon find work in outer space. Scientists are making plans to probe the icy seas of Jupiter's moons and drop a lander into the bizarre gasoline-like lakes of Titan, a moon of Saturn. [...]

Saturn Moon 'Could Look Like Sweden'

A probe due to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, could discover a world that looks “a little bit like Sweden or Northern Canada“, one of the mission’s scientists said.

Martian Bunnies?

New York Times

On November 10, 1907, the magazine section of the New York Times added this headline to the historical record, "Martians probably superior to us." [...]

Italian police seek huge breasted woman

Italian police are looking for a woman with huge breasts who has gone on the run after failing to pay for £5,000 implants.

The 46-year-old woman, who has been identified only by her initials AM, slipped out of her hospital bed following the surgery and disappeared.

Doctors at the clinic in Rome say that apart from the unpaid bill they are also concerned for her health as she requires close monitoring following the surgery.

Dr Jamal Salhi said: "She told me that she needed the surgery because she worked in a hostess bar and that clients preferred big chested women.

"She went from a size four to a size eight which is the largest you can get in Italy. When she came to my surgery she said: "I want the biggest chest possible."

"'It has since emerged that she gave false information when she arrived at the clinic and apart from running off without paying, as with any surgery she needs to be monitored afterwards."

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